Free 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book

Air Brake Book Tenth Edition

Introducing the 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book

Commercial Carrier Journal is offering a free .PDF of the 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book.

While the basic concepts of air-brake systems have not changed, this edition covers new brake technology, preventive maintenance practices, an outline of the all-new 2019  Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) air-brake out-of-service criteria and Air Brake Pushrod Stroke guidelines used by law enforcement.

In short, this guide is must reading, if you own or operate commercial motor vehicles with air-brake systems.

Stay up to date with the latest information on truck air brakes.

Stay alert—stay alive! ■

Distracted & Deadly . . .

Distracted driver crashed into stopped tracffic

Zombie Driver . . .

It was the start of an ordinary day. Traffic on eastbound Hwy. 13 was stopped for a red light at the Washburn Avenue intersection in Burnsville, Minnesota. Little did four people know they would be involved in a serious crash that would send two of them to the hospital for treatment for injuries.

Rear-end collisions are a fairly common occurrence, about 28% of all crashes, according to the NTSB. For 2016, the last year with complete data, “Large Truck Rear-Ending Passenger Vehicle” were the cause of 4.5% of fatal collisions involving a truck (FMCSA).

This collision is unusual in two respects:

  • The crash was caught on video
  • Bad as it was, the crash could have been much, much worse

Posted by Pat Nelson on Friday, September 7, 2018


Ninety-seven percent of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2016 were occupants of the passenger vehicles.  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Lessons Learned

  1. Drivers of large vehicles need to be trained. And trained in emergency procedures, to include knowing when to swerve to avoid a collision. This topic is beyond the scope of the CDL manual and needs to be covered at the company level. Drivers need to be completely indoctrinated in executing proper procedures in an emergency situation. Advanced training can include attendance at a truck skid school to practice what was discussed.
  2. Savvy fleet owners invest in collision-avoidance technology. As there are many older trucks on the road, the age of the vehicle is no excuse with new systems as Forward Collision Warning (FCW) from Mobileye, which can be mounted on any vehicle. The deployment in the 1990s of the rear-center stop light resulted in a decrease in read-end collisions, so technology can make a difference.
  3. Automobile drivers need to stay about 100 feet (7 car lengths) behind any stopped truck and use their warning flashers to get the attention of the drivers behind them, paying attention to traffic that might not stop. Then, after several vehicles stop behind their vehicle, close the gap with the truck ahead.

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

FDA Safety Course for Food Haulers


Highway truck

Training Requirements

Motor carriers hauling food products need to maintain training records for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as required by the ‘Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule.’

If you are involved with food or temperature-controlled food cargo in the supply chain, the rule likely applies. See the chart below for any exceptions to the rule.

Smaller fleets are exempt from this rule if they have less than $500,000 in gross annual revenue.

The requirements of the new rule include:

  • Trailers are properly pre-cooled
  • Proof of shipment temperatures can be provided
  • Standardized operating procedures are in effect for the cleaning, sanitizing and inspection of the trailer.

The FDA has a new online training course for motor carriers and their drivers. Click here: Sanitary Transportation Rule training.

sanitary transportation rule


I took the course. There are several modules and a few questions after each part. Depending on how fast you read, it will take 20 to 40 minutes. At the end there is a form to print a out a certificate. Keep a copy for your records, and perhaps write the date on the back.

If your company is in the food supply chain, I would recommend having all of your drivers take this online FDA course.

FDA Food Safety Certificate

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599



Winter Driving Woes . . .

Tesla pulling truck in NC

Tesla assisting a semi in North Carolina

No Traction—No Action

Those of us living in the snow belt fully experience winter in all its glory. For truck drivers it means breaking out the anti-gel, chains—when needed, gallons of window wash, and brushing off your dormant winter driving skills.

Know, know, know . . .

Commercial drivers also need to know when to use the “diff lock” (Inter-Axle Differential (IAD) Lock, also known as the Power Divider) and, perhaps more importantly, when not to use it.

Due to the significant number of failures surrounding the Inter-Axle Differential (IAD) Lock, also known as the Power Divider, there is confusion and frustration with the proper use of this component. The IAD is often referred to as the “weak link” of your truck’s drive train and can be a big unexpected maintenance cost. If you catch the damage early through oil analysis tests the repair can cost $1600, but if it progresses to a catastrophic failure, it can cost up to $7000. —Team Run Smart

In addition to your vehicle’s special safety features as the diff lock, winter driving techniques need to be reviewed with all of your drivers.

According to education expert Ulrich Boser, author of Learn Better (Amazon’s 2017 best science book of the year), experience isn’t always the best teacher—we have to make sense of what we know or think we know. Mastery is not the same as familiarity. Many experienced drivers have never used chains, know about anti-gel fuel conditioners, how to avoid a skid, or how to use their vehicle’s safety features, etc.

Driving on An Icy Patch

Drivers need to be aware of road ice, especially on bridges and in shaded areas. Sudden braking on ice can cause a skid and loss of control. Sometimes even taking your foot off of the fuel pedal can induce a skid—defined as uneven tire rotation. A driver should press the clutch in (with a manual transmission) or slide the shifter into Neutral with an automatic transmission, and roll over the ice until safe control of the vehicle can be regained.

Driving on Snow

Truck tires can be warm coming off a roadway. Ice easily forms when the vehicle is parked on a snow-covered . Keep some sand in the truck for extra grip. A chain can be placed under the tire.

A key technique when driving on snow is to not spin the tires when starting. Spinning the tires can form more ice. A much better technique is to ease off into a slow start. One way to get rolling in the snow is to start in a higher gear. Drivers are usually very surprised how well this works in snow.

Check Driver’s Knowledge . . . and Review

To know if your drivers make sense of driving in winter or any other season, it is wise to check their understanding. This can take the form of a pre-training questionnaire, pop-quiz during training, a formal assessment or a combination of the above.

If knowledge is not up to snuff, then a safety review is needed. Training adults is not the same as instructing juveniles. Content and materials need to be useful, relevant, and presented in a respectful manner. In addition, the adult learner needs to feel comfortable and at ease during the process.

Be sure your drivers have the right Knowledge, Skills or Attitudes (KSAs) to successfully negotiate driving in deep snow and in any other condition this winter.

Thank you for reading this. Much success in 2018.

Learn more about inspections: Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Inspections

Training Tip: Ask the Questions No One Dares to Ask

Ask the Questions No One Dares to AskQuestions? Anyone?

Whether addressing a large group or conducting one-on-one training, everybody can have questions. You may know your stuff, but on the receiving end, things are not always clear. Sometimes even basic concepts become garbled.

At times the participants may be dwelling on a previous point. Or they may simply not be paying attention or their minds were distracted. Concentration beyond a minute or two can be difficult for some. And all of us have our limits when exposed to complex or new technical information.

Tip: Merely presenting information does not constitute training.

What is Training?

Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Wikipedia

— A process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job.

— Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.

From these definitions we can see training is an activity or a process of teaching or developing skills, knowledge, information, instructions, or competencies. Training is something that takes one to the next level of knowledge or skill.

How Do We Know When Training Has Been Achieved?

Simple skills are easy to teach. Highly complex skills and knowledge can take years to learn or master.

Successful training should result in a change of behavior or the learning of a new behavior. In short, the person being trained should be able to somehow demonstrate what they have learned.

One problem I frequently encounter during training sessions is that participants don’t always ask the questions they have.

Some Training Tips

  • Know your stuff. Training is all about prep. Take the time to review what you will teach and what the objectives are. Create a lesson plan and start with your objectives. What new skill or knowledge will the participant(s) be able to demonstrate when finished?

You can’t teach what you don’t know.

The worst training session I ever attended was a Hazmat presentation years ago by a DOT employee in Lansing, MI that lasted about twenty minutes or so. The trainer ended with, Well you guys know this stuff anyway. Perhaps we did. Perhaps he did . . . but I still wonder.

  • Break it down. Complex training can be broken down into “chunks.”
  • Stick to the plan. It can be easy in our highly technical and information-centric world to get off-topic. Everything presented should support the training outcomes and objectives.
  • Encourage note taking. Taking notes is a proven learning method. Not everyone is a good note taker, so it’s a good idea to prep the participants by saying, Write this down . . . before any key concepts, phrases, procedures, etc. I like to have extra pens, pencils and paper available for the training session. For field training, encourage participants to bring a pocket notebook with them. (This is also an excellent marketing opportunity to distribute pens and notebooks with your company information or logo.)
  • Review, review, review. Tell them what you are going to talk about. Tell the information. Then tell them what you told them. Ask questions like: Are you with me so far? Does that make sense? What was the key thing I said when we first started? Fire off a pop quiz or ask someone a direct question.
  • Ask for their questions. This is where you may get the most blank stares. Have a few questions prepared in advance about the materials, then ask and answer them, saying, Well these are some questions others have had . . . Then ask for more feed back about their understanding.

Thank you for reading this.

Bad as it Gets: ​Big-rig Driver Flees Scene

Big-rig driver flees sceneFatal Hit and Run

Facts are few in the Saturday, April 30th hit-and-run crash that left a 28 year old man dead and a driver in critical condition in Vernon, Calif.

Minutes before, the truck driver was allegedly involved in another crash, and had run a red light, causing the collision. He then unhitched from the trailer and drove away, leaving two men trapped under the trailer. The truck driver is still at large, but police have named a person of interest. The tractor was located about a mile from the the scene.

Fight or Flight?

What is known is that the driver was allegedly involved in a crash and by all indications, had already made a decision to flee that scene and subsequently ran a light.

The psychological reaction to a sudden stressful event is sometimes called the flight or fight response, or “acute stress response.” A stressful event (a stimulus—like a collision)  results in a release of adrenaline and norepinephrine in the bloodstream. This is followed by physical reactions as increases in heart rate and breathing, constricting blood vessels and tightening muscles. The primary consideration is that fight or flight is is an automatic response, the person has no control over it.

A number of truck drivers have stated the reason they had left an accident scene was because they panicked. One truck driver was shot by police when he attacked the officer with pepper spray and a weapon, after his truck was placed out of service, These are examples of the flight or fight response on the road.

Driver Training and Preparation is Key

Savvy insurance companies are always interested in an organization’s accident management systems. What is your policy regarding collisions? Do you have a process in place to determine collision preventability? Do drivers receive any defensive driver training? Do drivers know what to do in the event of a collision? Is there an accident kit aboard the vehicle? Would drivers know how to use the kit?

Roadside inspections can be stressful for drivers. Some drivers have told me they shake like a leaf in the wind during an inspection.

This is another area when driver training and preparation can be helpful — but are often not done. I saw a recent survey by the National Association of Small Trucking Companies that found clean inspections are not recorded a majority of the time. Communicate your expectations to your drivers. Train and retrain.

One type of training that is not done often is role-playing. Walk through a crash (or road-side inspection) step-by-step with your drivers. Invite a law-enforcement officer over to help. Drivers need to learn how to keep their cool when the pressure is on.

One goal of this type of training is help drivers to overcome that sense of panic in the occasion of a stressful event. Training will not make the event any less stressful, but will help drivers to better deal with their reactions should such stressful situations occur.

Thank you for reading this.

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . . Or Was There?

fatal collision

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . .

On Thursday, a young man with autism stepped off the bus in Omaha and was fatally injured. He attempted to cross the street from around the front of the bus and was struck by a tow truck. He was 24 years old.

“There really wasn’t anything anyone could have done.” Witness to the collision.

For those of us in the world of loss control and traffic safety and collision prevention, we might disagree with that statement.

Sure, a pedestrian has the duty to take reasonable and prudent caution before venturing out in traffic. But a driver can never assume a pedestrian will do this.

  • Children under the age of 10 or 11, for example, have no sense of traffic. They will follow balls, toys, pets or other children into a busy street.
  • Many traffic signals do not allow sufficient time for the elderly to cross a typical street.
  • Parked vehicles as buses, trucks, SUVs, etc., are huge blind spots and can hide someone about to cross into the street.


  • A basic rule when driving past parked vehicles is to look for feet under the vehicle, indicating someone is about to step out.
  • Slow down. Slowing down gives a driver more time to process driving information and respond (not react in a panic). One study found that a reduction of 5 km/h or about 3 MPH could be expected to result in a reduction of 30% of fatal pedestrian collisions and 10% of collisions would have been avoided altogether.
  • Be alert and avoid distractions. Be mindful of driving. Focus, focus, focus.

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a set of driving skills.

A skill is the ability to do something well, or expertly.

By that simple definition, the average driver is . . . well, average. Many U.S. drivers have never had any formal driving classes in their lifetime. Driver’s Ed is not universal because it can be expensive. I can remember a while back when Texas allowed parents to skip formal driver’s ed classes and teach their own kids how to drive in the parent-taught driver education (PTDE) program. Kids take on-line classes and the parent does the in-car training portion. (On a side note, It was interesting because at that time, Texas had an open-container law in which a passenger could legally drink alcohol while going down the road.)

The point is not everyone has good defensive driving skills because they have never been taught that particular skill set.

Secondly, we all need reminders from time to time because even the best defensive driving skills can get stale.

Over time one notices that certain types of collisions seem to occur in a series. Awareness of a particular danger is increased . . . and then, oddly enough, those types of collisions seem to disappear. Then the cycle repeats itself. (Some say all accidents simply follow the law of averages. I disagree.) Learning by making mistakes is neither the best nor the most efficient way to go about defensive driving. Drivers need training and retraining.

Defensive driving is a form of training or practice for motor vehicle drivers to drive in such a way that they consciously reduce the dangers associated with driving.

If you employ drivers, then teach them defensive driving. One advantage of living in the Age of Information is that the costs of training keep going down (while the cost of doing nothing keeps increasing).

There is no excuse for any employer of drivers not to have a defensive driving program.

Thank you for reading this.


Solving the Truck Parking Problem

positioning the vehicle

What Do You Want: A Job . . . or a Position?

– a particular way in which someone or something is placed or arranged.

What, you might ask, does a Rolls Royce have to do with truck parking?

Years ago when putting together a curriculum for training truck drivers I did research on some of the top driving schools in the world. What made them the best? What did they do?Everyone knows that Rolls Royce is one of the best cars in the world. Even that People’s Revolutionary Lenin took possession of a Rolls, no doubt in the name of the people. One of the things I came to find out was that professional Rolls Royce drivers never park their vehicle — they always position the car. 


While that might be a subtle nuance, professional Rolls drivers are informed (indoctrinated) that how the vehicle is parked (errr— positioned) should make a difference.


With new truck prices now often exceeding the price of a Rolls, one would think that the idea should catch on. Parking stress is one of the top concerns of many truck drivers. Parking lots can become quickly congested and there is always the element of danger when large trucks try to maneuver around each other in tight spaces. Collisions, injuries and even fatalities are bound to occur.

But there’s another emerging problem that goes beyond a lack of parking spaces —  there are some drivers who just don’t get it. They simply don’t know how to park.
Here’s an example . . .
over the line
 These two trucks in the middle in the next photo are angled so another truck cannot park next to them. The two middle trucks are taking up at least four parking spaces . . .
 bad positioning

This was recently shot at a packed truck stop by V-blogger Trucker Josh,  who gave his two cents on the matter . . .

What’s up with this?
That is skill to take up five spots with two trucks. Bravo.
Don’t be those guys.
Get out of your truck . . .
Every time I park, I walk around my truck and I walk away from it and I look at the whole thing from a distance. I ask myself a few questions . . .
1. Am I straight?
2. Am I between the lines?
3. If I can’t see the lines, I imagine lines and ask myself again, Am I between my imaginary lines?
4. Can everyone else around me get out, so I won’t get woken up at 4 in the morning when they want to leave? Can they get out? Are they going to hit me when they get out?
These are all questions that I ask myself as I am walking around the truck looking at my parking . . . Then, if I can’t see the lines, I look at the other trucks that are parked there, then imagine lines . . .


And that is how one professional driver positions his truck . . .


If positioning was done properly, I believe we could potentially solve some of the parking problems drivers are experiencing. Drivers need to know how to properly position their vehicles without being a hazard to the trucks next to them and, most of all, without taking up two or even three desperately needed parking spots. 

Other Parking Horrors . . .

Here are two more bad parking examples . . .
Bobtail backed over curb.

Bobtail backed over curb.

 A tractor trailer is parked tightly against the curb . . .
Buffing the curb.

Tires scrubbing hard against the curb. Not a good thing . . .

There are a number of other tricks of the trade when it comes to positioning a truck or tractor trailer.
  • Pulling forward tight against a curb can lock the shifter of a truck with an automatic transmission.
  • There are some places a truck should never park . . . like on ramps and expressways. It’s automatic termination, for example, for Landstar drivers who violate that company policy.
  • Know emergency stopping procedures. One recent lawsuit was settled for over $2.5 million when a driver did not put on his four-ways and set-up his triangles . . . We all pay for this kind of foolishness in higher insurance premiums.

Positioning the vehicle correctly every time does make a big difference.

Thank you for reading this.

Test Your Air Brakes

runaway truckOn February 26, 2016 a loaded dump truck was caught on camera as it slammed into a car and careened out of control through a busy intersection at 2222 and Jester Blvd in Austin, TX, resulting in a crash that involved four vehicles.

On February 29, 2016 an 18-wheeler loaded with gravel slammed into a home at 260 Windsor Drive in San Carlos (between Redwood and San Francisco, CA). It was the second time in two years, according to the daughter of the homeowner. The driver was taken to the hospital.

In both of these recent crashes, the trucks were not able to stop.

Brakes are the No. 1. Out-of-Service (OOS) Violation

Every year the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) holds its annual International Roadcheck. Every year the number one Out-of-Service violation is a faulty brake system.

While the numbers are trending down, last year 27.5% of vehicle violations were for bad brakes (and 15.5% of OOS was for brakes that were out of adjustment).

Out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system violations combine to represent half of all out-of-service violations issued for commercial vehicles on the road. Brake systems that are improperly installed or poorly maintained can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks or buses, a serious safety risk. CVSA

Some Simple Brake Tests

Always chock the wheels when preforming brake checks!

Smaller commercial vehicles may have hydraulic brakes

• Hydraulic Brake Check

With the engine running, pump the brake pedal three times, then hold the pedal down for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move (depress) during the five seconds.

•Air Brakes

Air Gauge(s) Check ►

For vehicles built after April 1, 1977, check for presence of two (2) air pressure gauges (or a single gauge with dual needles).

Gauge(s) must be accurate to within ± 7% (at 100 PSA 7% = 7 PSI).

Governor Check ►
Check air brake system governor operation. While building up system air pressure, note pressure at which governor cuts-out (compressor quits compressing). With engine still running, pump brakes to lower air pressure until compressor cuts-in (starts compressing again). Note pressure.
(a) Cut-out pressure is too low (below 100 PSI) or too high
(above 130 PSI).
(b) Difference between governor cut-out and cut-in pressure
exceeds 25 PSI
(c) Cut-out pressure is below 120 p.s.i. (for buses equipped with air dryer system; repair).

Parking Brake Check or “Stall” Test ►

With parking brake applied, place in gear and gently tug against the brake to see if it will hold the vehicle.

Air Loss or Leak-Down Test ►

With the engine running, air pressure should be at the governed cut-out (120-125 psi).
1) Shut off the engine (in 2nd or 3rd gear).
2) Release (push in) the YELLOW tractor protection valve/parking brake valve. RED valve should be IN also.
3) Roll down window and listen for any audible air leaks which may be a blown diaphragm in the chamber or leak in line. (Any audible air-leak is a NO-GO condition)
4) Make a note of the air pressure.
5) Apply the foot brake, and hold for one minute.
6) Note air pressure drop resulting from brake application. Check the air gauge to see if the air pressure drops more than three pounds in one minute (single vehicle) or four pounds in one minute (combination vehicle) or five pounds in a minute for combination vehicle with doubles.

NO-GO: If pressure drop is greater than 15 p.s.i. do not move the vehicle until brakes have been adjusted or repaired.

Low air warning devices §393.51(c)
Turn the key to the “on” position without starting the
engine and begin fanning off the air pressure by rapidly applying and releasing the foot brake.

Low air warning device(s) (buzzer, light, or flag) should activate before air pressure drops below 60 p.s.i. on gauge.

Protection valves Pop-off Test §393.43
• Continue to fan off the air pressure starting with at least 60 p.s.i. in air system and noting air pressure at which valve “pops out.”

Between approximately 20-40 PSI on a tractor-trailer combination vehicle, the tractor protection valve and parking brake valve should close (pop out). On other combination vehicle types and single vehicle types, the parking brake valve should close (pop out).

NO-GO: If valve pops over 50 psi or does not work between 15 – 40 PSI.

Check Your Air Brakes Daily

Drivers can inspect their brake systems every day. Even if you can’t go under the vehicle, you can listen for air leaks, check low air signals and look for component damage. If you can go under your vehicle, you can measure pushrod stroke the same way a CVSA-certified inspector does, and compare the results to the pushrod stroke limits set by regulation.  CVSA

Thank you for reading this.

More . . . Operation Airbrake Inspection Procedures

Top Driver Training Tip: The Plunger Shifter

plunger shifter

Taking the plunge: eliminate the guesswork out of shifting.

While many fleets are slowly moving towards automatic transmissions, manual transmissions and the art of manual shifting will be around for many years.

If a new driver has never driven a manual, getting the rhythm down can be perplexing. Previously we noted how one instructor used the windshield as a “whiteboard” to show the shift pattern.windshield

But some things have to be memorized. There is not enough room on the windshield for all the learning cues. Learn it in muscle memory and forget it, I would tell my students.

Understanding how to smoothly shift takes practice— hours of practice, in a variety of traffic environments. I’ve heard it takes about six hours to learn how to hover a helicopter. Learning to shift smoothly from scratch takes at least as long if not longer.

The key is to always know your target gear— and then know how to recover when things don’t go so well.

The plunger is a good learning prop. A student-driver can take the plunger home to practice, memorize speeds, or carry it on-board until they feel confident in their shifting.

Thank you for reading this.

More . . . Perfect Practice Makes Perfect?


The Driver Training Process

Indy_Celadon_Driving_AcademyMaximum Workforce Engagement

Every job requires learning new skills or brushing up on old skills.  Employees cannot deliver value to an organization without the proper knowledge and skills.

Every company does things a little differently. New employees need to know and to learn company policy and procedures.  Longer-term employees need to refresh their skills.

Most skill development will take some training. Training increases productivity by teaching the skills that increase productivity. Training is not an event. Training is a process.

The term “process” implies an ongoing program.  Without training reinforcement up to 80% of what is learned may be lost in several days.

Most training is too brief, sometimes known as the “hit and run approach.” There is little or no follow-up or refresher training. Hit and run training results in few skills being transferred to where they are needed — on the job.

Structured Training Program

All training should be structured. Structured training is a starting point to employee engagement.

Engaged employees know what to do and want to do it.

Surveys show only half half of employees feel “engaged” with their work.

A structured training program has:

  • Clearly defined training objectives or goals
  • A scheduled time frame
  • Outlines of learning activities
  • Assignment of responsibilities for the learner and training leader
  • Formal processes

Job Instruction Method

Adults do not learn well in lecture-type settings. One popular “hands-on” adult training method is called Job Instruction.

Job Instruction has 4 Steps:

Step 1. Put the learner at ease. Explain what the learning concept is about. Determine what the learner already knows about the concept.

Step 2. Patiently and carefully present the concept, task or operation to the learner. Stress the key points, one at a time. Do not overload.

Step 3. Have the learner try out or do the task. Have the learner explain the key points. Ask questions and give feedback. Don’t stop until you know that they know.

Step 4. Provide feedback through frequent checks. Encourage questions. The learner should look for key points. Slowly taper off the coaching and checkups to occasional feedback. Ask the learner questions.

The 10—2 Teaching Rule

Do no more than 10 minutes of teaching— followed by 2 minutes of “absorption time” to allow the learner time to absorb the material. Use the two minutes to provide context for the material by telling stories or asking questions.

A mistake is to try to teach everything in one session. Large-scale change happens only in steps.


  1. Always break-down the new information into chunks.
  2. Give time for the learners to:
    1. Reflect on and absorb the information
    2. Use it experimentally
    3. Apply the new principles

According to the “somatic marker hypothesis” this is the way we make decisions and learn— through socialization and experiential learning. It’s not only a process, but a slow, drawn-out process.

Emotional memory— memories and habits are formed through experiences associated with strong memories.

The 70—20—10 Rule

  • 70% of learning comes from direct experience
  • 20% of learning comes from the influence of others
  • 10% of learning comes from formal classwork and reading

In Conclusion

Engaged employees directly affect the bottom line. It is the primary task of management to provide the necessary resources, including training and skills development, for staff to meet minimal standards. Only then can staff realistically be held accountable.

Thank you for reading this.

More:   3 Tip-top Truck Driver Training Tips

Alert: I-35 Truck Crashes on the Rise

I-35 Truck Crash -- About 120 truck crashes happened in 2015

A big-rig crash on I-35 . . .

Austin, Texas is not only the fastest growing city in the U.S., averaging about 2.9% growth, but growing congestion and inattentive drivers are contributing to several truck crashes each week on I-35.

On Thursday (Feb. 18, 2016), an out of control tractor-trailer hit the center guard rail and was rear-ended. The truck driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. When it was over, another rig and five cars were involved in the crash— mostly from damage from debris at the crash scene. Both directions of I-35 were shut down for several hours.

KXAN Investigates

KXAN-NBC investigated why so many truck crashes in Austin on I-35 are happening.

And the main reasons for so many crashes?

  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Drivers not paying attention.

Sen. Kirk Warson, D-Austin would like to see through-truck traffic take SH-130 to bypass much of the city. He would reduce SH-130 tolls for trucks during peak traffic times. A truck and trailer pay about $10 to run SH-130.


KXAN found most I-35 truck crashes happen between 12 PM and 3 PM.

Austin, TX Truck Crashes

Data from American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) shows Austin, TX ranks No. 16 for traffic congestion.

I-35 Peak traffic speeds

Traffic on I-35 slows to a crawl in late afternoons, according to this chart provided by ATRI. Even if trucks took the toll-road at that time, it is doubtful fewer truck crashes would result, in my opinion. Traffic is at a crawl by 6 PM.

Is Aggressive Driving to Blame?

It’s a fact. Most collisions are preventable.

The National Safety Council (NSC), defines a preventable collision as one in which the driver failed to do everything that they reasonably could have done to avoid it.

The next video is 58 seconds long and was viewed over 8 million times. Watch as a car attempts an unsafe lane change.

It may be possible that the vantage point from the camera is much better than from the driver’s seat — especially if the driver is sitting low.

Two vehicles attempted to occupy the same space at the same time. Fortunately for both, no one was injured.

But could this collision have been prevented?

Applying the Preventability Standard

The American Trucking Association (ATA), uses the following standard to determine the preventability in a crash . . .

“Was the vehicle driven in such a way to make due allowance for the conditions of the road, weather, and traffic and to also assure that the mistakes of other drivers did not involve the driver in a collision?”

This is not a legal standard to determine collision fault. This standard is simply to determine if proper driving precautions were taken to avoid a collision.

In this video one can only speculate if the truck driver is driving defensively or not. Because of that element of doubt, and without any further mitigating facts, I would be inclined to believe the truck driver could have started slowing down a little sooner— not only pulled off his lane onto the left-shoulder, and possibly no collision would have resulted.

The concepts of preventability and defensive driving are essential to the operation of a fleet safety program.
A fleet safety supervisor must diligently work to create awareness of not only the importance of preventability, but also the fleet and defensive driving procedures involved. Providing adequate training as well as holding drivers accountable for preventable accidents will not only reduce the vehicle accident frequency but improve the fleet operations and the company’s bottom line. Hartford Insurance and  National Association of Wholesale Distributors

Thank you for reading this.

More  . . . Beware The Indy Ramps


Advanced Driving Techniques of Professional Drivers


There are drivers. And then there are drivers. For some it comes naturally. Others— often brilliant people — are clueless behind the wheel of a vehicle, their minds seem to wander off and be someplace else.

Driving is a Practice

Practice is defined as:

  • : to do something again and again in order to become better at it, customarily, or habitually

  • : to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life, to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient

  • : to live according to the customs and teachings of (a religion)

Driving is all of these things to the professional driver who works at getting better, on a daily basis, according to ‘customs and teachings.’

Not everyone is cut out to be a good driver. Pundits lament the high levels of driver turnover (usually 100%), but turnover is one way the industry screens its not-so-good from its run-of-the-mill drivers.

The Extraordinary Driver

But what distinguishes the ordinary driver from the extraordinary driver? How does a driver reach the apex of driving?

Personally, in my opinion as a driver trainer, safety advocate and, more recently, my work in loss control, I believe there are a number ways to becoming an expert driver (no matter the size of vehicle), but, paradoxically, no one way. For example, I am a firm believer in training — but I believe that training can be useless if a driver is placed in a rogue safety culture that permits or encourages senseless risk-taking.

Look at a photo of any major crash . . . the names on the side of the vehicles are almost always the same . . . some of the top fleets in the U.S., with some of the most carefully screened and trained drivers in the history of surface transportation.

Professional drivers go beyond training, and even beyond experience. Professional drivers employ advanced driving techniques. The word advanced here does not mean complex or complicated. Advanced can mean “ahead in development or progress,” and another one of its nuances is “not yet generally accepted.” The word technique means “a way of carrying out a particular task.”

Here are some Advanced Driving Techniques I see used by professional drivers (in no particular order, and not a comprehensive list) . . .

  • Hypervigilance
  • Early mistake recovery
  • Extreme space cushion management
  • In a hurry, but not a rush
  • Maximal conflict avoidance
  • Mentors/models/leader
  • Relaxed concentration
  • Stay within the limits and bounds
  • 24/7/365 mindset
  • Self-learner/life-long learner
  • They keep score
  • Zero accidents/incidents/cargo loss

Some of the above may be considered more of a trait or the now more popular word “factor,” than perhaps a technique, but these are some of the things I see that contribute to a professional driver’s way of driving.

Researchers say truly autonomous, self-driving vehicles may be decades away. There will be a need for truly professional drivers for years to come. We should not accept anything less than professional drivers.

Thank you for reading this.



Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), What Carriers and Drivers Should Know

 e-logsPresenting Annette M. Sandberg, Esq.

Yesterday, FleetOwner magazine with the sponsorship of Telogis, a logistics software provider, provided a webinar on Electronic Logging Devices, What Carriers and Drivers Should Know, by Annette M. Sandberg, Esq., former head of the FMCSA and principal at TransSafe Consulting, LLC. Before running the FMCSA she was with the  Washington State Patrol for 17 years.

The final ELD rule was published December 16, 2015 and gives motor carriers two years to comply with it — for an effective date of December 18, 2017.

Who needs to comply with the ELD Rule?

Remember the letter “L” in ELD. L means Log.

If a driver needs to run a Log Book, then they will have to upgrade to an ELD by the above date, with few, few exceptions.

Who does NOT need to comply with the ELD Rule?

Again, as the rule is now written, there are only a few exceptions.

  1. Drivers who do not run logbooks.

Logical, right? If a driver does not run a log book, then they would not need an ELD. Generally this means drivers who use “time cards,” “exemption” sheets, or short haul drivers:

CDL drivers who always return to their same starting location, never work or drive a total of 12 hours in a day and stay within 100 air-miles of their starting location (or non-CDL drivers who do the same but stay within 150 air-miles of their starting location).

But there is a crucial exception to this exception: in a rolling 30 day period these drivers will need an ELD if they have to use paper logs more than 8 days of any rolling 30 day period (if the driver must attach a logsheet to the time card).

So if a driver goes over their maximum 12 hour work shift, stays overnight somewhere other than their normal start location, or goes over the 100/150 air-miles, more than 8 days in a 30 day period, then they will need to install an ELD device.

2. Driveaway-towaway Operations

“Driveaway-towaway operation” means any operation in which any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, singly or in combination, new or used, constitutes the commodity being transported when one set or more wheels of any such vehicle are on the roadway during the course of transportation, whether or not any such vehicle furnishes the motive power.

Driveaway-towaway operations get a free pass. No ELDs for you.

3. Pre-2000 model year trucks.

Older trucks cannot be wired for ELDs, in a cost-effective manner. Older trucks are, in a sense, “grandfathered in” into the new millennium. They, too, get a free pass.

That’s it. Everyone else who needs to use a logbook, needs to use an ELD device.

  • Fleetsize does not matter.
  • Truck size does not matter. (Truck age does matter).
  • Commodities hauled do not matter (other than Driveaway-towaway operations).
  • Nothing else matters, if you have to run a paper log, then you need to run an electronic log on an ELD device.

What is an ELD device?

Size, shape and type of device is not defined. It could be a smart phone, tablet, or any electronic device, as long as is mountable and secure when the truck is in motion, and available for law enforcement outside the cab, and displays the required trip data:

  • Driver name and ELD username, if one applies.
  • The motor carrier’s name and address
  • Engine hours and mileage for each driving period.
  • Any fault status if the ELD malfunctions.
  • A grid graph, hours and locations.

Key ELD Points

  • Original entries are permanent.
  • Any annotations and edits must be initialed
  • Data will be encrypted
  • All drivers must have accounts, including shop mechanics who test drive a truck
  • All mileage must be assigned or accounted for
  • Owner/operators cannot have an administrator account.

Automatic Duty Status Changes (Two)

  • If the wheels move (5 MPH), the device will default to on-duty, driving.
  • If the vehicle stops over 5 minutes the device will warn the driver, then default to on-duty (not driving).
  • No other automatic duty status changes are allowed (as the rule is now written).

But Wait . . . There’s More! Supporting Documents, the Crazy 8s

The logging may be electronic, but the paperwork never ends.

Supporting documents requirements take effect on the ELD rule Compliance Date December 18, 2017.

  • Up to 8 supporting documents (SDs) in a 24-hour period MUST be kept. As a rule of thumb, if you have them, then you must use them (but no more than 8).
  • NEW: SDs must be submitted to the carrier within 8 days.
  • Drivers need to produce SDs in their possession at Roadside Inspections.
  • Carriers must be able to match the SDs with the electronic logs.

There are five categories of supporting documents:

  • Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or equivalent documents that show the starting and ending location for each trip;
  • Dispatch records, trip records, or equivalent documents;
  • Expense receipts (meals, lodging, fuel, etc.);
  • Fleet management system communication records;
  • Payroll records, settlement sheets, or equivalent documents showing payment to a driver.

New: Drivers using paper RODS must also keep toll receipts – which don’t count toward the eight-document cap.

Required SUPPORTING dOCUMENT Information

Each supporting document must contain the following information:

  • Driver name (or a carrier-assigned identification number) on the document or on another document that allows the carrier to link the first document to the driver.  The vehicle unit number can be used, if that number can be linked to the driver.
  • Date.
  • Location (including the name of the nearest city, town, or village).
  • Time.

If a driver has fewer than eight documents with all four information elements, a document that does not include time can also serve as a supporting document.

Annette M. Sandberg answered many questions in a short amount of time.

Her final recommendations?

  1. Do your homework. Implementation will take longer than you expect. Line up your ducks in a row before the deadline. She gave tips on device selection.
  2. Things will change and the DOT promised to provide more information at their ELD page.

FleetOwner said they will post her webinar next week on their website. Check it out.

DOT’s Drivers ELD webpage and Carrier’s ELD webpage.

Previous . . . New DOT Reg Requires Electronic Logging for CMVs

Thank you for reading this. Our email is admin(at)part380(dot)com for your questions or comments.

The $250 CDL Special

“Climb Aboard. We’re Going for a Ride”

We're going for a ride.

“We’re going for a ride.”

The $250 CDL Special

Their Youtube videos have gotten millions of hits.

With almost 4 million views this video may be one of the most popular YouTube videos on trucking.


“We have been in business since 1998 and have a 100% pass rating.”

“You will pass.

“CDL Test Truck of Allen, TX has a 100% success rate when it comes to their clients officially passing the exam, with 99% passing the road test on the very first try.”

Says one former client . . .

“I passed my road test on Tuesday, and I start my job on Sunday. Thank you so much Jennifer and Billy for providing me with your service.” ANNA, May 13, 2015

CDL Realities

Becoming a truck driver is a marathon — not a dash to the finish line. Run a well-practiced marathon.

A CDL is an entry-level license to learn. Commercial Driver Learner.

Truck diving is like a craft or trade. Safe driving takes a number of years to master.

A good driving school will put you in a position to make lots of mistakes. That’s the time to make most of your driving mistakes — in a controlled environment.

Are there any good truck driving schools other there? Yes the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) published a list of truck driving schools they certify. Go there to learn the trade, if possible. Don’t get taken for a ride.

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author.

Please help support this Blog with a Micro-payment.  $1 U.S.D.
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Issues in Truck Driver Training


Several pileups involving 44 vehicles occurred Sunday afternoon on I-94 in Michigan. Poor visibility combined with drivers who were going too fast for conditions and following too closely, resulted in the pileups, including one with six tractor-trailers and one fatality.

Poor driving habits lead to errors and mistakes. Studies suggest driver errors and/or mistakes can result from learned habits, which in turn can be corrected by training.

Training is on the minds of leading motor carriers. Carriers are either expanding their in-house training or breaking into training by investing in truck-driver training schools.

Training Issues

Issue # 1. Good truck driver training is not cheap; cheap truck driver training is not good.

Cheap training is any training that does not offer real value. Without quality, there is no value. Without safety there is no quality.

Cheap truck driver training schools are euphemistically known as “CDL Mills.”

California style: driver training tractor with no fifth wheel hitch.

California style: tractor with no fifth wheel hitch.

Issue # 2. Funding for Workforce Training is Political.

Truck driver training runs from $1800 to multiples times that amount. Workforce training funds are generally based on federal money, doled out by the state, sometimes tied into quasi-governmental entities that administer the funding. Union members may have special or additional training funding programs. Veterans have another program. In my experience, these programs are bureaucratic, even nightmarish at times when they are corrupt and drivers have their CDLs cancelled.

Usually the driver is expected to invest in his own career. For some lacking those funds, this may be an impassable hurdle. For others, the bureaucratic hoops for federal/state funds are another kind of hurdle. Who should pay for the training? What’s a fair solution?

Issue # 3. Demographics and Social Engineering

Fact: The workforce is getting older. Young people feel compelled to go to college by their friends and family, even if they won’t be happy there (or later from the millstone of student debt). At the same time there is a pool of unemployed who are not attached to the labor market. This is affecting almost every industry from agriculture to construction to manufacturing. Some say this is because a number of states offer alternatives to work in the form of welfare payments equivalent to $15 to $25 /Hr. Attracting those folks back into the labor market is seen as a major challenge.

Issue # 4. Training Follows a Circular Pattern

Trucking is a service. One cannot build up an inventory of unused capacity in trucking like a manufacturing plant can. When the economy slows, training is the first area to be cut. When training or safety is cut, few may notice any difference in operations or may attribute losses to other considerations. Safety culture works like that. Nothing happens until something happens. Sometimes a wake-up call is a major crash. Other times it’s a visit from a DOT auditor and a shutdown notice. Corrections and change may take years to get things right again.

Issue # 5. There are few Training Standards

Competency is defined as the ability to apply knowledge and skills to produce a required outcome. Competency is expected to develop from  education, training and experience. Competency is generally based on a prescribed level of training.

The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) promotes truck-driver training and driver finishing standards. PTDI-certified courses are currently offered at 58 schools in 19 states and one Canadian province, according to their website. 

Until standards are universal, training and competency will suffer. Training and competency are suffering. Drivers are set-up to fail. Some carriers employ questionable training practices. They invest little or no money in training and shift 100% of the risk and consequences to subcontractors, some who have been killed, along with their trainees.

There is no agreement on what a competent truck driver should look like. That decision, and the unintended consequences that inevitably follow, will be made by some DOT bureaucrat in Washington D.C., based on the report of the  Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee.

Training should not end when a driver gets a CDL. Safety training should be a core part of every driver’s career from beginning to end. Better motor carriers acknowledge this.

Action expresses priorities. Gandhi


Workforce training is an essential investment for safety and productivity. Since the recession started in 2007, there has been an overall under-investment in training, apart from a few exceptional motor carriers. This lack of investment has resulted in a loss of productivity and repeated safety issues.

The good news is that corrections are being made. It is one of the goals of this safety blog to contribute to effective training solutions and safety indoctrination.

Thank you for reading this.

Please help support this Blog with a Micro-payment.  $1 U.S.D.
For use in training or company newsletters the fee is $5 per 1000 trucks.

J TaratutaJohn Taratuta is a trucking safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

Slam, Bam, Kapow! Preventing Another I-80 Truck Pileup

I-80 Wyoming pileup 4-16-2015

Remembering the Wyoming Pileups of April 16 2015

The person with the camera was at a loss at the amazing sight. A cavalcade of tractor-trailers, from some of the biggest fleets in the U.S., slammed into each other with a steady cadence.

Three pileups on I-80 occurred that day due to blizzard conditions that dumped about 10 inches of snow. The worst pileup was near mile post 342. Roads were described as icy and slick and driving as treacherous.

What went wrong?

Training wasn’t an issue. These drivers are probably the best trained drivers we have ever produced.

Equipment wasn’t an issue. Most equipment was A+, top-notch, primo equipment.

Experience, perhaps, is a question mark. Many drivers, especially new drivers, take their cues from other drivers. They watch what everyone else is doing and try to do the same.

Drivers have a tendency to drive in packs. When two and three tractor-trailers are slamming into the pileup together, what does that tell you? Riding side-by-side or passing in blizzard conditions is highly risky.

How about some radio silence on the CB? Did you know that CBs are starting to get banned in certain areas? The CB should be a safety tool. How about saving Channel 19 for the real work and find another frequency to ratchet-jaw?

Accidents Don’t Happen

Safety experts say collisions, incidents or “accidents” just don’t happen. In almost every case a number of risk factors (and “red flags”) are also present. Here the slick roads, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions all contributed to the crashes. And a primary crash can lead to secondary crashes, so a crash in itself is a risk factor for another crash to occur.

According to the Wyoming Highway Patrol the primary root causes in these crashes were no mystery:

  • Speeds too fast for the blizzard conditions,
  • Loss of control.

Seeing it actually happen as it occurs, for myself at least, is unbelievable.

Drivers appear stunned. And some were seriously hurt. The trucks hit hard and form a solid wall of steel and twisted metal. Some drivers are trapped, but fortunately the snow absorbs most of the spilled diesel and there is no fire.

Here’s another view from the other side . . .

Winter Driving Blues

There are two times, I believe, winter can be dangerous: at the start, when drivers need to adjust their driving style to the new realities of winter, and at the end of winter, when dry roads can quickly become icy or slick due to inclement weather.

Right now we are only in the first phases of winter.

 New Drivers Listen Up

If you are new to truck driving, be aware that fresh snow can pack hard and form ice. Once a road is iced up, a driver needs to really slow down, or even get off of the road, if necessary. It can take hundreds of feet for a truck to come to a stop on a snow-packed or icy road, If a truck is light or empty additional distance is needed to stop. All stops need to be smooth and gradual. This takes more space. A panic stop will result in a skid or jackknife. A driver easily needs three to four times as much space to safely stop. And If the ice is wet, it will take 10 times the distance to stop. 10X!  Even the Kiwis know that.

“On ice it can take up to 10 times the distance to stop.” NZ Transport Agency

In the Wyoming crash, drivers really did not even see what they were driving into. Visibility is poor. There was no way they could safety stop. They did not “leave themselves an out.” The results speak for themselves.

I hope we can do better than last year. We really need to.

Action Summary

  • Start indoctrinating your drivers for heavy winter driving.
  • Have a written policy for driving in inclement weather. Everyone (drivers, dispatch, schedulers) needs to know when to say no, when enough is enough.
  • Drivers need to “read the road” for red flags: No oncoming traffic on the opposite side says something is up. Heavy wet snow will pack and form ice, wet ice. Ice forming on the wipers, or the outside of the mirrors, is a red flag, etc.

Thank you for reading this. Have a safe day.




Trucking Bloopers

In lake

What is the primary root cause of most of the woes in trucking? The verdict is in. Human error.

Human error is responsible for over 95% of all collisions, goofs, and bloopers in trucking.


Climbing an 8 inch curb in Chicago? Nope, it’s not going to happen . . .


Note the guy wire anchor on the lower right. The driver didn’t . . .


Another good way to take down a telephone phone is with a 16 foot high load.


Works like a charm every time . . .


Maybe if I pretend not to notice, then no one else will notice it either?


The excuse? The GPS made me do it . . .


The first driver whipped around the corner on the icy road like a drift racer from the Fast and Furious. 


Leaving the ditch as the only option for the second truck . . .


Hauling steel is not for the faint of heart.

no bulkhead

Especially without a trailer bulkhead or headache rack. . .

The only source of knowledge is experience. Albert Einstein


Thank you for reading this.


Preventing Crashes at Intersections


On Thursday, a semi was headed westbound on Highway 24 when a pickup pulled in front of it at the intersection of Woodman in Falcon, Colorado. The truck driver was ejected from the truck as a result of the crash, resulting in fatal injuries.

40% of Crashes

About 40 percent of crashes are at intersections. Intersections range from complex expressway interchanges to simple, rural crossroads. In an uncontrolled intersection, there are no traffic control devices.

What is one of the main causes of intersection crashes?

In a study of intersection crashes by the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, when comparing intersection crashes with non-intersection crashes, it was found that the “critical pre-crash event” — defined as an event that made the crash imminent (i.e. something occurred that made the collision inevitable) — was “turned with obstructed view.” NHTSA analysts  found  “turned with obstructed view”  occurs at intersection crashes  335 times more than at non-intersection crashes, usually in left-turns.

It is found that regardless of type of traffic control device, traffic signal, or stop sign, illegal maneuver and inattention were observed significantly more than expected in crossing-over crashes, while turned with obstructed view and misjudgment of gap or other’s speed in turning-left crashes.

False assumption of other’s action was found as the most significant critical reason in turning-left crashes at traffic signal and in turning-right crashes at stop sign.

The next most prevalent critical reason for an intersection crash was “inadequate surveillance,” appearing about 6 times more often in intersection-related crashes than in non-intersection-related crashes.

Other reasons for intersection crashes include: illegal maneuver (4.1 times), false assumption of other’s action (3.8 time), misjudgment of gap or other’s speed (3.1 times). Reasons may vary by type of maneuver, whether vehicles were turning right, left, or going straight through the intersection.

The results show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as external distraction, false assumption of other’s action, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by traffic signals. Also, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as internal distraction, inattention, illegal maneuver, too fast or aggressive driving behavior, and critical non-performance error when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by traffic signals.

In short, if a crash happens at an intersection, the crash only occurred because one or both drivers made some sort of error. One driver may have misjudged the other driver’s speed or closing gap, while the other driver may have misjudged the other driver’s intentions, or may not have been paying attention at all. The result is chaos.

The results also show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by stop signs. In addition, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, inattention, external distraction, and illegal maneuver when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by stop signs. The crashes characterized by turning-right at stop sign have false assumption of other’s action assigned as critical reason significantly more than expected

Some Intersection Safety Tips

Here are some defensive driving tips for intersections . . .

• If you are stopped and a vehicle approaches with the turn signal on, do not assume the signalling vehicle is going to turn: wait until the vehicle starts the turn so you know for sure, before pulling out.

• Approach intersections assuming that cross traffic may not obey traffic control devices and anticipate the need for collision avoidance.

See and be seen. Keep vehicle lights and reflective devices wiped clean at every stop, and assure that all lights are operational. Keep the headlights on 24 hours of the day.

Rock and roll. Be mindful of the “A pillar” blind spot where the cab meets the ends of the windshield. This can obscure vision. Rock and roll in the seat to look around the pillars.

obscured view

This truck had a number of objects dangling in the driver’s view, when it was hit by a train. 

• Keep the windshield and mirrors clean and be sure the driver’s view is not obstructed.

• Use a window-wash treatment as Rain-X in bad weather. Keep a spare jug of window wash in the truck in winter.

• When practical, avoid making left turns. UPS follows a no-left-turn policy in about 90% of their turns.

• Always be ready to yield right of way at an intersection, to avoid a collision.

Cover the brake at intersections. Physically move your right foot from the throttle to over the brake pedal.

• Never signal another driver to proceed. The driver may not look and end up in a collision.

Know any other great intersection-safety tips? Please share them.

obsecured view

Thank you for reading this and have a safe weekend.

3 Tip-top Truck Driver Training Tips



Tip No. 1. Instructor’s Mirrors

Problem: The driving instructor or trainer cannot see much using the driver’s mirrors, especially in turns.

Solution: Mount large round mirrors for the instructor.

instructor mirror

Tip No. 2. Windshield “Whiteboard”

Problem: Students may be unfamiliar with a shift pattern or need a visual cue.

Solution: Use a felt-tipped pen or dry erase marker, and the windshield as a whiteboard. (Some drivers use a a felt-tipped pen on a side window to scribble notes as border mileage when crossing state lines.)


Tip No. 3. A Dual Instrument Panel for the Instructor

Problem: The driver’s instrument panel and gauges may be hidden from the instructor’s view, so the instructor cannot monitor speed, RPMs, or if the turn signal is on or off.

Solution: Mount an instrument panel on the instructor’s side.

dual instrument panel

Bonus Tip

I also like an instructor’s brake pedal, to help keep things under control at all times.

At one time a new truck driving school in town with a fancy new truck made a right turn, taking out a telephone pole. The collision cut power to a busy business district and resulted in a huge insurance claim, and, ultimately, put the school out of business. (Yes— if your company takes out a power pole on a turn, the exposure can include business losses due to the power outage. So watch those turns!)

One really bad training collision in 2004 in Climax, GA killed three students and the instructor, when the truck stopped and then pulled in front of a train. It is speculated that the student’s foot slipped off of the clutch. There was a light rain and students switched drivers before the crash.

An instructor’s brake (and instructor’s mirrors as above, on the turn) could have helped to prevent these collisions, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading this. As always, if you are not finding the answers you require, please contact us directly.